Treetop living - Homelife visits LEcluse, a spectacular property spread over six floors
The property was the childhood home of Superman actor Henry Cavill
Take a tour of the house with our gallery below
See this and more homes in the May edition of Homelife, free with Wednesday's JEP
THE interesting history associated with L'Ecluse in Vallee des Vaux includes the fact that the property was the childhood home of 'Superman' actor Henry Cavill.
Situated in a private and picturesque setting with some seven vergees of gardens and land, the home has seen many changes and additions to its accommodation over the years evolving from a modest granite dwelling to a beautiful six-bedroom property with an integral apartment, fully geared to modern living.
From its elevated position, the house has views over the valley - a peaceful and unspoilt environment which attracts a wide variety of wildlife. You can see squirrels, ducks, coots, herons, moorhens, kingfishers, a woodpecker, owls and song birds. Their calls are the only sounds you will hear as there is no disturbance from traffic.
A more rural location would be hard to find, yet the home is just a short drive along the valley's green lane to St Helier's schools, shops and businesses.
The earliest picture of the house, dated 1870, shows that it operated as a farm and was surrounded by cotils. A detached cottage built in the grounds was accommodation for the lock keeper who would have been responsible for the sluice gate which controlled the flow of water from the stream and pond to the nearby mill at the Harvest Barn. The pond is still there but slightly reduced in size and filled with carp and rudd.
LEcluse is just one of the properties featured in the May edition of Homelife, which is free inside Wednesday's JEP
The cottage was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s on a site overlooking the stream. It is included in the sale, and would be ideal for a housekeeper and gardener or rental unit. Accommodation on the ground floor comprises an entrance hall, a shower room/cloakroom, a fitted kitchen with granite worktops and a sitting room. Upstairs, there are two double bedrooms and a bathroom. Both the kitchen and sitting room have double doors to a sun patio and there is also a car port.
Between 1910 and 1930, dormer windows were added to the house and later a tower with a stairwell up to a roof garden. When ownership passed to Dr Philip Bentlif in 1935, he commissioned well-known local architect, Arthur Grayson the following year to design improvements to the property, then known as Beau Rivage. Work was undertaken by a Mr E R Egre and included changes to the roof and the installation of larger windows. A large 'Canadian' style build, clad in timber, elevated the property a further two floors. Work was completed in 1939 - a date inprinted on a surviving rainwater hopper. At that time, Beau Rivage was noted as being in St Helier although current records indicate that it is now the last property in Trinity before entering St Helier.
During the Occupation, there was a strong German presence in the area with the adjoining lane being closed at the curfew time of 6 pm. The house was commandeered by the Germans and used as an officers' mess and two ammunition stores - concrete structures with a domed corrugated roof, were constructed in the garden. These roofs have collapsed but could be replaced to provide additional storage. Another structure, probably a guard house, was built near the entrance gate to the property's long tree-lined drive.
Dr Bentlif moved into accommodation above his David Place practice during the Occupation and his wife, two children and nanny were evacuated to the mainland. The family's cook stayed behind, but later betrayed the fact that the doctor had a crystal radio in the house. Fortunately, he had time to hide it amongst rose bushes and it was never discovered.
During the 1950s, there was extensive garden landscaping in the lower grounds of L'Ecluse with particular attention to the texture of tree barks and the colour of autumn and summer foliage. Species introduced included lace bark ash, snake bark maple, silver birch, dawn redwoods, a handkerchief tree, spruce, acers and a beautiful Judas tree which flowers on bare branches. There are also magnolias and rhododendrons and many oaks and native trees which provide an abundance of firewood which can be stored in the log shed for the winter months.
Henry was born in Jersey on 5 May 1983.
In December 2013 he was voted as the worlds' sexiest man by Glamour magazine readers.
He was once dubbed the 'unluckiest man in Hollywood' by Empire magazine after missing our in several roles, including Batman and James Bond.
He is a member of the Jersey Rugby Club.
He played Superman in the 2013 movie Man of Steel and brought his Hollywood co-stars to Jersey for a star-studded premiere at Cineworld.
He is a global ambassador for Durrell.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the follow up to 2013's Superman film Man of Steel, will be released in cinemas in 2016.
In Spring, a profusion of bulbs come into flower including bluebells, snowdrops and old varieties of primula, violets and daffodils.
An extension was added to the home in 1970 and further major work was undertaken by the present owners who bought the property during 2006. This included a complete re-design of accommodation to fulfil the needs of 21st century family life and entertaining.
The interior was completely gutted, plumbing and electrics were renewed, insulation was added and the whole house was redecorated. When it came to the layout, particular attention was paid to the way the home functioned and flowed and the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Accommodation is set on six floors with a bedsit apartment, ideal for a family member or nanny at ground level. Although this has its own entrance, it also has internal access to the main house.
The first floor is the hub of family life and socialising with a spacious, light and airy open plan room with sitting and dining areas and a luxurious Mark Wilkinson New England kitchen. Cabinets, which include an island, are beautifully crafted and topped with marble and granite surfaces. Functional features include double sink and food preparation sinks and top of the range appliances including an electric, enamelled Aga, a Sub Zero fridge freezer and two dishwashers.
In the sitting area, a fireplace fitted with an Aga wood burning stove brought back from Chelsea, creates a cosy atmosphere. There is also oil-fired 'wet' underfloor heating laid under the sandstone, flagstone flooring and central heating, linked to traditional cast iron radiators, throughout the house.
In summer, three sets of bi-folding glazed doors provide easy access to an elevated verandah with a large porch - a glorious sunny spot for al fresco meals, parties or simply relaxation with a glass of wine. There is also the opportunity for a dip in a hot tub. As the verandah is at the same height as the canopy of oaks, you feel as though you are in the tree-tops. Below, the view extends over an Italian styled section of the garden.
Excavation of the rock face provided space for a utility room and a cloakroom, while an area at the back of the house, provides ideal cool conditions for a pantry and wine cellar. There is also a study, another cloakroom, a coat room and a snug at this level.
When larger entertaining space is required, good use can be made of the second floor drawing room which has original 1920 parquet flooring and an attractive fireplace. It benefits from plenty of natural light with glazing on three sides including a door to the south facing, wrap around balcony. This can also be accessed from the master bedroom served by a fully fitted dressing room and a wow factor bathroom with an elevated, free-standing bath and a Matki walk-in shower. An adjoining room is currently used as a music room but alternatively could be turned into another bedroom, study or nursery.
Work by the current owners saw the upper section of the tower turned into a guest suite with an adjoining bathroom. On the top floor, there are two further bedrooms with en-suite shower rooms and two bedrooms served by a house bathroom.
Apart from being a naturalist's paradise, the grounds of L'Ecluse provide an amazing and magical adventure playground for children. Gardeners would also be in their element in the sheltered environment which encourages tender plants to grow. There is a newly installed greenhouse to raise seedlings and a recently planted orchard with apple, cherry, pear and plum trees as well as soft fruit such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries which have been ingeniously planted in the soil between sleeper steps. If a pool was on the wish list, there is no lack of space to install one. The property also includes a double garage, car-port and plenty of parking.
Further information is available from Savills, telephone 722227
In August last year Jerseys Man of Steel became a Durrell ambassador, in a bid to raise awareness of the wildlife park and the importance.
On a visit to the Island, he swapped his Superman cape for a Durrell t-shirt as he took a tour of the park.
Speaking to the JEP at the time, he said: Im here to raise awareness of the Durrell conservation effort worldwide. This is a place that is very close to my heart - I used to come here as a boy, and now that I can help to raise peoples awareness of Durrell, I thought I would make the effort.
Reflecting on childhood visits to the attraction, he said: I used to come here so often. I remember playing here with my brother. Being around the gorilla enclosure is a particular memory.
Lee Durrell, the parks honorary director and wife of the late Gerald Durrell, said: To use the words ambassador and Henry Cavill in one sentence is brilliant. I hope with his being spokesman it will bring the name of Durrell and our mission to the attention of people all round the world.